A Black-Tie (Preferred) Affair

I remember my mother getting ready on Saturday nights in the nineties and aughts, a real age of dinner-dances and black-tie auctions. I remember her leaving for her hair appointment, helping her touch up her nails, but most of all I remember her chatting with her friends about the dress code. And today dress codes still befuddle.

I’m here to tell you two things: evenings of gowns and galas have hardly seen their prime. The Everhart Museum in Scranton is having a fabulous event Everhart Uncorked: An Evening of Fine Art, Fine Food, and Fine Wine on November 4th. The second is don’t be intimidated by a black-tie preferred dress code. Read on for my black-tie preferred style guide.

What Is A Black-Tie Preferred Dress Code? 

For the Gentlemen

Guys get off easy. And have a surprising amount of accessory options. A tuxedo is the best place to start, meaning a coordinated black suit with satin lapels, a cummerbund, vest, or suspenders, and a bowtie. Dress shoes, usually patent leather, cufflinks (personally I like mother of pearl or onyx with sterling), and studs for the buttons on the dress shirt are typical. Men can opt for a white dinner jacket for a black-tie dress code or the less common velvet jacket, embellished silk jacket, or smoking jacket. Dapper ascots and tuxedo scarves are not outdated, so go for it if you’ve got that kind of swagger. 

Adding “preferred” to this dress code means a dark suit with a black or silver tie is acceptable if you don’t own a tuxedo, but tuxedos for men are the best look. Also dress shoes that aren’t the  typical patent leather are acceptable. Velvet smoking slippers for men have had a recurrence in recent years with shrunken pants.